Dr. Nancy McNally is the National Security Advisor under President Josiah Bartlet from 2000 to 2007. Following the election of President Matthew Santos, McNally is named Ambassador to the United Nations.
Following a purported assassination attempt on the president, Dr. McNally advised Vice President John Hoynes and White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry on the possibility of Iraqi involvement, and recommended the deployment of soldiers into Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. Ultimately, the attack proved to be targeted not at Bartlet, but at his aide Charlie Young, and was the work of white supremacists.
Dr. McNally became one of the President's three key advisors on foreign policy and military matters, the other two being McGarry and Joint Chiefs Chairman Percy Fitzwallace. She helped deal with situations in Haiti, Qumar, Equatorial Kundu, Iran, and Georgia. She also intervened when Sam Seaborn starting looking into securing a pardon for a convicted Soviet spy, who was the grandfather of one of Donna's friends. When Sam tried to argue for his innocence, Dr. McNally showed him an NSA file confirming his guilt.
Dr. McNally has vacillated between being hawkish and dovish on the exercise of military force. For example, she supported US arms deals with Qumar as necessary, then, half-jokingly, recommended a nuclear attack in response to the Abdul Sharif affair, before opposing Admiral Fitzwallace's proposed invasion.
McNally bears some resemblance to Condoleezza Rice, who was appointed national security advisor shortly after McNally's character was introduced on the show (at the time, Dr. Rice was candidate Bush's foreign policy advisor). Career-wise, however, McNally bears a closer resemblance to Susan Rice, a fellow Democrat, UN ambassador and national security advisor.
- 2000-2007 : National Security Advisor (Bartlet Administration)
- 2007-present : Ambassador to the United Nations (Santos Administration)
- Nancy McNally does not appear in the first season of The West Wing, a season which sees several notable international crises (the India invasion of Pakistan, for example), so it is unknown if she joined the Bartlet Administration at its start. The character's in place for the second season premiere (and by extension, the last few episodes of season one), which saw assassins target the presidential motorcade.
- She is also somewhat absent from seasons 6 and 7, not appearing on-screen between the episodes Liftoff and Requiem/Transition, as her Deputy National Security Advisor Kate Harper (Mary McCormack) becomes a main cast member and the de facto lead character on security/foreign policy subplots. However, she is still often referenced